I fell a few weeks ago, on the sidewalk, while gawking at another new group of hideous town houses that are being built in our neighborhood. When I fell, I cried, not because it hurt, but because I felt humiliated, broken, slapped in the face yet again by RP. My depression and self loathing voices took center stage and told me I was useless and really shouldn’t even be outside if I can’t manage to walk a block without falling down and scraping my knees. I wanted to hide, from the RP and the day and the world. I wanted to hide from myself, pretend I was graceful, dream I could float. My sadness turned to anger and I stumbled home, terrified that every step may be the one to send me back into the unwelcome embrace of the pavement. Until very recently, this had been my usual response to falling.
Then, the inevitable happened a few days ago. I was hiking, and I fell. It wasn’t a bad fall. I have had much worse falls, falls that resulted in broken bones. This fall just scraped me up a bit. One moment I was walking and the next I was falling onto the dirt, gravel tearing the skin from my hands, with the melodious voice of Stan Ridgway providing the soundtrack for the scene.
I am used to falling; it comes with the territory when you have RP, but what was different about this fall, was how I responded to it. Not physically; physically I am pretty good at falling, most of the time (the broken leg incident being an exception of course). It was my emotional response to the fall that was different.
When I fell, those first moments in the dirt, my heart began to sink into the usual abyss of self-flagellation, but I caught it. I took a breath, assessed my ankles – I have twisted and sprained my ankles countless times since childhood – and looked up into the face of a kind woman who asked if I was ok. I assured her I was, smiled and scrambled up off the ground. My pants were covered in dust and my hand was bleeding from a series of cuts, but mostly, I was unscathed. I poured water over my hand, to clean it out, and started hiking again, Stan still in my ears, singing about eating barbequed iguana. I got my groove back pretty quickly.
I walked the two miles home from the spot where I fell, hand bleeding and stinging, but I didn’t cry. I wasn’t defeated. I knew it wouldn’t be my last fall, but despite that, I would be up on that mountain again. I will be up there today, but I might leave Stan and his iguana at home; that song was stuck in my head for days.